by Paige Donner Tasted today at Pavillon Ledoyen’s hosted Patisserie and Champagne Salon (Paris) was Lanson’s just-about-to-be-released organic and Demeter certified champagne. Notes of citrus, yellow fruits, fresh and mineral, this champagne has been aged 3 years and is the … Continue reading
by Paige Donner It seems that everyone these days can’t get enough of the wines from the Southwest of France, namely the Bergerac region. It’s likely just a coincidence that Wine Enthusiast named it their region of the year for … Continue reading
by Paige Donner For our wind-down of Season 4 of Paris GOODfood+wine we get green Danish style with Jane Pedersen and her GrØnt grains and smorgasbørd good eats. Of course she pronounces her native Danish words properly so I won’t … Continue reading
by Paige Donner Here at Local Food And Wine we love shining the spotlight on our fellow media creators who tell special tales about the sacred and symbiotic relationship between humans and their food. This week’s West Coast Live show … Continue reading
by Paige Donner Planning a day trip from Paris is always a fun undertaking. Even if the designated day or weekend is still weeks away, just thinking about getting out of the city and into some good countryside fresh air … Continue reading
by Paige Donner Sure, many of them are organic, some are even natural wine. And yes, they consistently offer rich tastes and aromas, balanced with nice acidity where they’re supposed to be. And, OK, the packaging is attractive, easy to … Continue reading
by Paige Donner All photos copyright Paige Donner 2014. Summer time means ice cream. But what a – NICE! – surprise to find an ice cream truck parked right on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. And not just anywhere on the … Continue reading
The Avocado tree is native to Mexico and Central America… The vitamins and minerals contained in this recipe can do everything from speeding cell turnover (to reveal healthier skin underneath) to protecting skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Get plenty of moisturizing vitamin … Continue reading
by Paige Donner La Freizh, La Freizh!! A young, impassioned wild strawberry producer – gariguette in French – named Julien Héliès has launched a limited production of White Strawberries. Did you know strawberries were originally WHITE?! You might not have … Continue reading
Be sure to pick up February’s issue of La Revue du Vin de France… British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario wines and wineries are featured in a multiple-page spread. For the Okanagan some beautiful highlights of Osoyoos Larose and also Quail’s … Continue reading
The consistently high quality of bio-dynamic wines is winning out over their reputation of a cultish way to cultivate grapes. Here are two recent Mainstream Media Reports about Bio-dynamic wines. The first is a French news report during this year’s … Continue reading
For the longest time, in fact, up until just a week or two ago, folks in California were committing a crime when they made bread or apple sauce, say, at home and took it to the market to sell. It … Continue reading
By Paige Donner For most of us wine lovers, the word Bordeaux evokes Mecca-like dreams and memories of some of the world’s best and most prestigious wines. For the Bordelais, there is a pronounced distinction between “Left Bank” and “Right … Continue reading
Foreword from the Minister
The Fête de la Gastronomie is a festival that is not to be missed, and it will be taking place on the first day of autumn [Sept 23rd]. It will also have its own theme, uniting all the different events and initiatives taking place throughout the country. This year we have chosen Our Earth, because it generously allows us to work it, harvest its fruits, and use them for our food. Because man and earth are inseparable. More INFO
Everywhere you look there is something to do with gastronomy: in the media, in the increasingly imaginative dishes available in our restaurants…as though the whole idea were something new, whereas in fact it is no more than a tradition in a constant state of renewal, very much alive, and one that makes the most of our country’s dynamism, the foods we produce, and what we do with them. Continue reading
Bio-dynamic gardeners, followers of the principles of Rudolf Steiner, believe that the movements of all theheavenly bodies, moon, planets and stars have an influence on the growth and development of all plants. So the time you chose to sow, plant or even weed your plants will affect their progress. The moon, the stars and the planets all affect the development of our plants.
At first glance the idea that the stars affect our garden seems quite crazy. But then we do know that the moon can move millions of gallons of water from one side of the ocean to the other every day. We do know also that all living things, including plants and ourselves contain water. So perhaps the idea is not so far fetched? Anyway judging by the number of horoscopes in newspapers and magazines, it seems that many people accept that the movement of heavenly bodies can affect their lives. So why not on plants?
The auspicious time for flowering plants is on ‘flower days’ when the ascending moon is in, Libra, Gemini or Aquarius. And for plants that are grown for their seed or fruit such as beans, tomatoes or courgettes, the best yields will be had by planting on ‘fruit days’ when the ascending moon is in Leo, Sagittarius or Aries.
By now, many readers have probably put these ideas into the ‘interesting, but far too much trouble’ category. And they may be forgiven for wondering if they are being asked to spend all their precious gardening time gazing at the sky before they can venture out to sow their new packet of seeds? But just as you don’t have to be an astronomer to read your stars in the newspaper, neither do you have to be one to plant by them.
Maria Thun publishes a calendar every year for interested gardeners and farmers. In it are marked all the suitable days for planting and sowing for the year. Few bio-dynamic gardeners bother themselves with the complexities of the cosmos, they merely organise their sowing and planting times around the calendar.
Another interesting aspect of bio-dynamic theory is that crops harvested on favourable days will keep better than when picked at other times. Thus, lettuce cut on a leaf day will stay fresher for longer than heads picked at other times. Equally gardeners who store their carrots over the winter are advised to harvest them on root days.
All photos by Paige Donner c. 2011.
The Gérard Bertrand annual Jazz Fest took place August 4th – 8th this summer at Château l’Hospitalet just outside Narbonne. These photos are taken at Château l’Hospitalet in Languedoc-Roussillon, “Sud de France.”
To read more about Gérard Bertrand wines, his annual summer Jazz Fest and his L’Art de Vivre Les Vins Du Sud, click on Gerard-Bertrand.com.
By Paige Donner
Jaillance produces the only sparkling wine from France’s Rhône Valley. They call it their “Clairette de Die” and its 7% alcohol content makes it a festive choice for most all occasions. Their rosé, the Cuvée de l’Abbaye, is made from 100% merlot and their “Cremant de Bordeaux” is 70% semillon and 30% cabernet franc.
Jaillance committed to organic farming in 1989 and has more than 200 growers in their winegrowers’ “cooperatif.” They take their commitment to sustainable winemaking seriously… far beyond simply changing out their bottles to the lighter 775gr. from the heavier 830 gr. champagne bottle. Take their cork recycling initiative for instance…
Did You Know?
- 12 billion corks are manufactured every year. 3 billion of those are destined for France alone!
- The cork oak tree does not die when its bark is harvested. The bark gradually grows back, like shedding its skin.
- Cork Oak trees can get up to 300 years old and grow a thick new layer of bark every nine years.
- 100% of harvested cork is used.
- Cork oak forests have great ecological value, sustaining a rich level of biodiversity and protecting many species of fauna and flora.
- A harvested cork oak tree absorbs 2 1/2 to 4 times as much CO2 as one not harvested.
Jaillance’s Cork Recycling Initiative: How It Works
Starting this summer Jaillance is calling on their consumers to save and collect their corks and bring them back to designated collection points. These collection points La Cave de Die Jaillance, Jaillance sales outlets and all Gamm Vert Shops (France).
These used corks will be sold back to to the cork industry, and the money sent to the Institut Mediterranéen du Liège (Mediterranean Cork Institute). The Institute will use the funds to plant more cork oaks in the Eastern Pyrenees forests.
Once the wine corks have been collected, the wine corks are taken to a recycling plant to be transformed into floor coverings, decorative items, components for the aerospace and automobile industries – or even into electrical power.
Cork is 100% natural and 100% recyclable. It is one of nature’s treasures.
by Paige Donner
As wine bars in Paris go, this is both authentic and on the beaten path. For years, whenever you’d search out wine bars and Paris, it is this one that would come up. It is nestled right next to the famous (and super cheap!) Marché d’Aligre.
Which is a good thing. Because after – or before – you buy your fresh cheeses, your ripe fruits, and your roasted chicken, you can buy your wine by the liter and enjoy a glass of it while doing so. And yes, you buy your liter of wine straight from the barrel.
Le Baron Rouge. It’s a bit on the beaten track but every bit worthy of a drop-in. Plus, what better way to start off a Sunday morning but with a glass of good, country, French wine?
By Paige Donner Read Complete Article on Bordeaux Food And Wine Château Smith Haut Lafitte is one of those wineries in Bordeaux that has its own helipad. Likely, it’s one of the only wineries in Bordeaux that has its own helipad, … Continue reading
By Paige Donner
La Revue du Vin de France held its wine salon this past weekend in Paris at the “ancien Bourse” which is the old stock exchange of Paris. As you can see here, it’s a beautiful building. It’s spacious and airy and the perfect place for wine tasting on a sunny Spring Sunday afternoon in May.
Honestly, if I have one recommendation to make to visitors to France, it’s that you really must coordinate your travels with these wine salons. For a few Euro, you get to not only see the interior of a national monument, you get to drink and taste your way through the wines of France.
So many wonderful wines. It will take the rest of the month to wade through all my tasting notes.
And the crowd was super friendly. Maybe it’s the sunny weather in Paris in Spring or perhaps it’s simply that good French wine brings out that “conviviality” that the French speak so glowingly of when discussing their wines. Whatever it was, the LRVF crowd was super friendly, very forthcoming with anecdotes about the wines they were pouring and the wines they were tasting and just plain, well, welcoming.
If there is only one little note I might give it’s that the Spanish wines were much too hard to find. Certainly, once I found my way upstairs, I loved the private room where the Spanish winemakers had stashed themselves, with the old stock exchange board that featured handwritten company signage such as Printemps and Paribas on it… But they were much too isolated up there. Since it’s the first time the salon has welcomed foreign wines amongst its midst in its 5 year history, perhaps affording them more accessibility would be a gesture of convivial diplomacy.
By the time I left, it was with a full glass of Spanish red liqueur wine. So sweet and rich and nothing like “ice wine.” I’ll definitely have some words to share about that and about the Priorat wines I discovered at the Paris Stock Exchange.
Take a look at this video interview to hear what he has to say about being named the Best Restaurant In The World, two years running.
And, in case you missed it, International Herald Tribune/ NY Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote a lyrical piece about Noma recently, foraging deep into the chef’s local food philosophy.
Posted By Paige Donner
Several of Paris’s Starwood Group Hotels, in addition to independently-owned restaurants and cafes have dedicated their Spring menus to using exceptional, locally Ile-de-France sourced ingredients. Local here is defined as originating no farther than 200 km. outside of Paris. This both supports Ile-de-France regional growers and eliminates much of the negative environmental impact that long-distance transportation of food products requires.
At the Paris restaurants: L’Orénoc duMéridien Étoile, the First at the Westin Paris-Vendôme and the Étoiles at the Sheraton Paris-Charles de Gaulle, you will find these specially crafted “Local” gastronomic menus that are being served in their main dining rooms, for room service and even for conferences and meetings.
In addition, at Le Meurice, the triple-Michelin-starred Chef Yannick Alléno has created a “mythical and savory” menu which he has dubbed « Terroir Parisien® » that he is serving for his lunch time guests. A range of products he has sourced from nearby Ile-de-France villages including mint from la Forêt (52 km).
Similarly the new trendy Lafayette Organic on Grands Boulevards is featuring all organic produce and products from Ile de France. And if you choose to dine at the restaurant, Chez Bruno, you will have the chance to enjoy artisan coldcuts from Michel Ballereau, of Sceaux (14 km), farm-raised chicken from Pouligny à Jouy in Morin (76 km), and fresh cheeses from the 30 Arpents Farm in Favières (41 km). And that’s not all, you will also get to try local honey from beekeeper Rémy Vanbremeersch and Carl Marletti’s artisanale pâtisseries. And when you find yourself in the Denfert Rochereau quarter with an appetite for some local flavor, stop in at Ghislaine Arabian’s restaurant, Les Petites Sorcières, where she is spotlighting the local produce of Claude and Catherine Gallienne from Neuville (67 km), and the fresh-baked breads of Parisien Jean-Luc Poujauran.
VINESTARS OF WINE CELEBRATE 33 YEARS AT PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL
Meet the industry’s top international trendsetters and principal vintners
Vancouver, BC, February 21, 2011 – To mark its 33rd year the 2011 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival will welcome some of the most progressive winemakers and winery leaders in the world. From pouring at the International Festival Tasting to hosting events, these vin-pioneers are set to satisfy curious neophytes and seasoned oenophiles with personal, one-on-one meet and greets. Appearances from the following wine world celebrities are just a few reasons to partake in the weeklong festivities.
DIVA(S) AT THE MET
What’s it like to be a woman in the grape trade? Vancouver-based sommelier and Playhouse Wine Festival host Daenna Van Mulligen(alias WineDiva), who has a decade-long list of wine tasting critiques in her purse, will be introducing an international group of female winemakers, proprietors and industry headmistresses at Diva(s) at the Met. Speakers include Ann Sperling, of British Columbia’s 86-year-old Sperling Vineyards; Mary Ann Yewen, Director of Freixenet, one of the top selling sparkling wines on the planet; and Mariola Varona, the North American Export Director of the multi-award-winning Bodegas Martín Códax, specializing in the Albariño grape. Among other dignitaries, these wine queens will dish on the coveted wines they represent, as well as the stories behind their successes as principal businesswomen in a traditionally male dominated industry.
With direction from the biggest wine diva of them all, attendees will also enjoy a selection of small bites prepared by Diva at the Met’s Executive Chef Quang Dang. Join this inspirational group of women on Tuesday, March 29th at the Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver, 645 Howe Street, from 6:00 – 8:00 pm.
THE LEGACY OF A SPANISH VISIONARY: MIGUEL TORRES
When it comes to describing Spanish wine icon Miguel A. Torres, “legendary” is an understatement. Arguably one of the most important families in the history of Spanish wine, Legacy of a Visionary is thepièce de résistance of Festival week. Miguel is the fourth generation of Torres to preside over the acclaimed and centuries-old Miguel Torres Winery, a published author several times over, Decantermagazine’s 2002 Man of the Year and Wine International magazine’s 2005 Personality of the Year.
Moderator Anthony Gismondi will be discussing Miguel’s influence and the Penedès region winery, whileguests are guided through a rare and diverse selection of wines from the Torres wineries in Spain, Chile and California.
One of the most anticipated events of the Festival, Legacy of a Visionary will held on Thursday, March 31stat VCC East, meeting room 8, 999 Canada Place Way, from 5:00 – 6:45 pm.
GOOD GRACIOUS GRENACHE!
Join house wine’s Michelle Bouffard and Michaela Morris as they explore the grandeur and the many guises of Grenache. This lesser known, but surprisingly common grape, was baptized as “Garnacha” by the Spaniards and has ties to cheerful rosés, fuller-bodied reds (think: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Priorato and Rioja), and lusciously sweet elixirs. Prepare to taste some of its finest expressions hailing from Spain, France, California and Australia. Good Gracious Grenache! will be held on Saturday, April 2nd, at VCC East, meeting room 1, 999 Canada Place Way, from 3:00 – 4:45 pm.
MEET YOUR MATCH
Finding the perfect wine is like finding the perfect partner, it takes the right introduction at the right time. Oeno-enthusiasts are promised that proverbial “spark” at this year’s much anticipated, Meet Your Matchevent. Chaperoned by master wine matchmaker and acclaimed wine writer, Anthony Gismondi, sippers will be invited to get up close and personal with the vinestars of the wine biz. These fascinating international winery principals are set to lead tasters first-hand through the intimate secrets of some of the world’s most outstanding wines and wineries. Presented in a format that allows small groups direct and personal interaction with Festival celebrities, each group will have about 6 minutes to taste the producer’s wine, hear their story and ask questions.
Included in the VIP list is proprietor Telmo Rodriguez, one of Spain’s most celebrated and animated winemakers. Telmo sought out forgotten vineyards for the purpose of recovery and cultivation of abandoned indigenous vines to rave reviews, consistently scoring 90+ points. Alvaro Palacios, widely considered to be propelling Spanish wine into the modern era, acquired his first vineyard, Finca Dofí, in 1990, and will be pouring cellared wines for Meet Your Match guests.
Known for his outstanding Syrahs and Cabernets, South African winemaker Marc Kent of Boekenhoutskloof will be returning to the Festival with his much lauded The Journeyman Franschhoek 2005. David Guimaraens, a sixth generation to Portugal’s Taylor Fladgate and Fonseca, is considered something of a winemaking genius at the international table. In December 2010, David released one of the world’s oldest ports, SCION, to a limited group of collectors and connoisseurs, which at 155 years old, may be one of the only wines to have survived the pre-Phylloxera era.
If these wine experts haven’t already satiated your taste buds, the event will also see Stefano Leone, International Export Director of Antinori; Louis Moreau, owner and winemaker of France’s Domaine Louis Moreau; British Colombia’s own Anthony von Mandl of Mission Hill Family Estate; Cristiano Van Zeller of Portugal’s Quinta do Vale Dona Maria; Californian winemaker Rick Sayre of Rodney Strong; Rupert Symington, Joint Managing Director of Symington Graham’s Port; and David Paterson of BC’s Tantalus Vineyards. Meet Your Match is scheduled on Saturday, April 2nd at VCC East, meeting room 8, 999 Canada Place Way, from 5:00 – 6:45 pm.
ABOUT THE PLAYHOUSE WINE FESTIVAL
The Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, Canada’s premier wine show, runs from March 28thto April 3rd, 2011. The Playhouse Wine Festival is one of the biggest and oldest wine festival events in the world. In 2011, the theme region will be Spain and the global focus, Fortified Wine. The Festival features a week of special events including the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner + Auction, wine seminars, wine minglers, winery dinners, and lunches and brunches at fine restaurants and hotels. The Playhouse Wine Festival is produced by the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival Society, which has three mandates: provide an informative, educational and entertaining wine experience for public and trade; be a premier marketing opportunity for the wine industry and Festival partners; and raise funds for the Vancouver Playhouse Theatre Company. Since its inception in 1979, the Festival has raised over $7.2 million to enable Western Canada’s leading theatre company to mount 223 productions and develop extensive community outreach and educational programs.
The Shore Club generously presents the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival.
(London) January 28, 2011 – The North American edition of the Sustainable Foods Summit (www.sustainablefoodssummit.com) drew to a successful close last week, with many participants calling for greater transparency and accountability from the food industry.
Organized by Organic Monitor, the summit brought together about 200 executives at theRitz-Carlton in San Francisco on 18-19th January 2011. New horizons for eco-labels and sustainability were the focal theme of the 2-day summit.The summit explored the evolution of eco-labels – such as Organic, Fair Trade andRainforest Alliance – in an increasingly global food industry.
The advent of international supply chains is leading many consumers to become disconnected from agriculture andfood production methods. Scott Exo, executive director of Food Alliance, echoed the general sentiment at the summit, calling for the ‘de-commoditization’ of food products byproviding greater traceability to consumers. Seth Goldman, co-founder and president of Honest Tea, opened the summit with his keynote on the triple bottom line. By using the example of tea plantations in China, he showed how modernization does not always contribute to sustainability. Since its launchin 1999, Honest Tea has become one of the fastest growing ethical beverage brands in the US.
The first session explored sustainability initiatives in the food industry, with many speakers raising the question, ‘how do you measure sustainability?’ The use of metrics in sustainability performance was explored by Joseph McIntyre from AG InnovationNetwork. Albert Straus, founder of the Straus Family Creamery, shared his company’sapproaches to measuring the carbon footprint of its dairy operations. The importance of offsetting carbon emission was also highlighted by Theresa Marquez from OrganicValley who showed the role of organic agriculture in carbon sequestering. Sustainability in foodservice was covered by Bon Appetit Management Company, which is sourcing locally from small farmers.
Also in the morning session, Kenneth Ross from Global ID discussed future trends in eco-labels. His paper stressed the importance of IT in combating food fraud and providing traceability to consumers. Convergence of mobile and internet technologies is expected to allow consumers to get ecological and social footprints of their food products. The session ended with a lively debate on sustainability indicators and measurement.The second session honed in on ethical sourcing and sustainable ingredients. The opening papers examined the role of Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade standards in lowering social and ecological impacts of food products.
Nasser Abufara from Canaan Fairtrade explained how social enterprise can improve lives of marginalized growers.Using case studies of three of the most traded food commodities, sustainable sourcing was discussed by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Theo Chocolate and Givaudan.
Marketing & distribution innovations were the subject of the third summit session. Leading retailers – Fresh & Easy and Safeway – shared some of their ethical trading and marketing initiatives. Alex Petrov from Safeway showed how its O Organics label had transcended the boundaries of a private label without cannibalizing manufacturer brands.Fresh & Easy, a subsidiary of the global retailer Tesco, explained how it was raising the bar by implementing new ethical codes of conduct. Ellen W. Feeney from Whitewave Foods shared her experiences in developing brands to meet consumers’ needs for healthy and ecological products with the ‘planetary health’ initiative.
The last session of the summit – organic plus strategies – began with an update on theglobal organic products market. Amarjit Sahota, President of Organic Monitor, showed how pioneering organic food companies were integrating sustainability into their corporate ethos and how some eco-labels were converging. Proceeding papers gave case studies of such developments. Equal Exchange stated how companies could intertwine organic and fair trade practices, whilst the Brazilian company Native Organic Products shared its raft of sustainability actions.
Using wine as a case study, the potential of biodynamic foods was explored by Demeter USA and Fetzer-Bonterra Vineyards. Chad Smith from Earthbound Farms closed the session with an interactive discussion onecological packaging for sustainable food products.The third edition of the executive summit raised many questions about sustainability inthe food industry: Will an eco-label ever fully represent sustainability? What ecological and social parameters are most important in such a standard? What are the most efficient methods to measure sustainability? Where is the line between green marketing and greenwashing? How can companies become more sustainable in distribution andpackaging?
The next editions of the Sustainable Foods Summit aim to address such questions. About the Sustainable Foods Summit Organized by Organic Monitor, the aim of the Sustainable Foods Summit is to discussand debate the major issues the food industry faces concerning concerning sustainability and eco-labels. The proceedings of the North American summit (San Francisco, 18-19th January 2011) are available for a small professional fee. More information is available at: www.sustainablefoodssummit.com
Organic Monitor has announced the dates of the next editions of the Sustainable FoodsSummit as…European edition Amsterdam (23-24 June 2011) North American edition San Francisco (17-18 January 2012)
In 2011, Organic Monitor is celebrating 10 years ofencouraging sustainable development. Since 2001, we have been providing a range of business services to operators in high-growth ethical & sustainable industries.www.organicmonitor.com
The winner of the Bocuse d’Or 2011 is Rasmus KOFOED – Denmark
Read More on Local Food And Wine
(23-24 January 2011) Lyon, France Rasmus KOFOED, representing DENMARK, has won the Bocuse d’Or 2011 trophy and €20,000 in prize money.
Second place, Bocuse d’Argent : Tommy MYLLYMÄKI, representing SWEDEN, won the Silver Bocuse trophy 2011 and €15,000 in prize money.
Third place, Bocuse de Bronze : Gunnar HVARNES, representing NORWAY, won the Bronze Bocuse trophy 2011 and €10,000 in prize money.
Several special prizes were also awarded: – Prize for the ‘Best Commis’, awarded by the Bocuse d’Or Winner’s Academy: Kinari KOYAMA, Commis to Tatsuo NAKASU, JAPAN – Special ‘Fish’ prize: Franck GIOVANNINI, SWITZERLAND – Special ‘Meat’ prize: Jérôme JAEGLE, FRANCE – Prize for the best promotional campaign: GUATEMALA – Prize for the best Poster, as selected by visitors via the internet website:
SPAIN As part of the Sirha 2011 trade exhibition, performing in dedicated contest kitchens facing the public at the heart of the brand new Paul Bocuse hall, 24 chefs from all regions of the planet took up a major challenge: that of preparing within 5.35 hours, during an extraordinary show, two perfect dishes using the official products of the Bocuse d’Or 2011: Scottish lamb for the meat dish and Monkfish, Crab and Scottish Langoustine for the fish dish.
All Photos Courtesy of Francis Mainard/ Bocuse d’Or/ Sirha.
To judge the 24 candidates, the jury was composed of 24 influential chefs who are emblematic of each country represented, under the aegis of 3 exceptional presidents: Paul Bocuse, President Founder, Yannick Alleno, Honorary President (3* Chef at the Meurice, Silver Bocuse 1999) and Geir Skeie, President of the International Jury (Bocuse d’Or 2009)
by Paige Donner
“La Garde Robe,” is a closet. Which is about the size of this snuggly little wine bar just off the rue de Rivoli, a hop and a skip from the Louvre.
Wandering in late one night after a meal with friends, there were just enough stools at the bar to accommodate the few of us. The high tables and the low tables towards the back, were all full of revelers who had the appearance of having spent the entire night at the comfy little “closet” swilling vins naturel and chomping on made-to-order plates of cheeses and thinly sliced meats.
La Garde Robe ha a loyal following and locals will name it as one of Paris’s top wine bars. You can get a good glass of red for anywhere between Euro 3,50 and 7,00. Come with a sense of adventure, ready to try something you haven’t before. It might be within a recognizable apellation, but likely you’ll find producers you haven’t yet tried.
Or just come for the ambiance. It’s one of those exquisite central Paris hole-in-the-wall wine bars that you’d never know was there until you purposefully set out to look for it. And on these cold winter evenings when a lighted window friendly beckons you to come in from the cold, well, if there’s still room for you to squeeze inside, you’ll be glad you did especially once you’ve tried a few things you may not have before. This is Paris, after all! You can also buy your bottles to go.
La Garde Robe, 41, rue de l’Arbre-Sec (rue de Rivoli) 75001
by Paige Donner
Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouët, Piper-Heidsieck, Louis Roederer,Gosset,…these are some of the most exclusive names in the coveted appellation of France’s Champagne region. And now it’s their time to shine in the New Year spotlight.
Bubbly and New Year’s Eve. They go together like caviar and blinis, oysters and aphrodisiacs.
And, as we all know, champagne comes only from the well-designated, well-demarcated geographical area East of Paris. It claims the cities of Epernay and Reims as its own. Everything else might be bubbly, but it can never be champagne.
Of course what’s always fun is to learn the backstories of these gastronomic names of legend. When something becomes so lodged in our collective conscience as are certain brands of champagne, we forget that they started out as people who decided to build a business out of the grape. So, sit back, relax, pour yourself a flute or a “sacred cup” of the festive drink, and come with us on our succinct tour de force of Champagne and a Sauternes for a sweet finish:
La Maison Perrier-Jouët gets its names from a husband and a wife, respectively. Famous and easily recognizable as the bottle with the beautifully painted flowers – Japanese anemones – on its glass, the house was established first in 1811 when Pierre-Nicolas Perrier, estate owner, married Adèle Jouët. Their joined names went on the Champagne Estate’s marquee and now 200 years, and only seven Cellar Masters later, the exquisite champagne is world-reknowned.
If you are in the mood to celebrate with the best of the best, Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs is the choice. It’s a vintage that is sourced from a singular terroir, a singular year and a singular varietal. Only two parcels of Grands Crus Chardonnay were harvested to create this champagne, “one of the most rare and exclusive in the world.”
Perrier-Jouët, 28 Avenue de Champagne, Epernay, France
You may be most familiar with Piper-Heidsieck as the champagne you drink from a lady’s shoe – especially designed for the champagne house by Christian Louboutin. Or perhaps you know them best as one of the first and still main supporters of the Cannes Film Festival. But what you might not have known, is that back in 1785, at Versailles, Florens-Louis Heidsieck presented Marie-Antoinette herself his special champagne vintage. A hundred years later, Fabergé decorated the bottle in gold, diamonds and lapis-lazuli.
And Marilyn Monroe? She said she went to sleep with a dab of Chanel No. 5 at her ear and awoke with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck champagne in her hand.
The house of Piper-Heidsieck just released their “Rare” 2002 Vintage only three months ago. “Le Rare” is aged seven years in the cellar and made primarily from Chardonnay grapes with some Pinot Noir. Its subtle minerality plays as an hommage to Mount Reims. The bottle is beautifully designed with a filligreed gold dress. Girls like to wear it as a Tiara. Champagne fit for a Princess, or a Queen. “Le Rare,” has only been made in the years 1988, 1998 and 2002 (just released.)
Piper-Heidsick, Reims, France www.piper-heidsieck.com
Bruno Paillard is a champagne that you have likely not yet had the chance to drink. Too bad for you. It is the youngest of the champagne houses, established in 1981 by then 27-year-old Bruno Paillard. In a region where champagne houses had existed for centuries already, Mssr. Paillard decided to sell his Jaguar MK2 and buy a vineyard with the capital he raised.
Today the Domain produces about 500,000 bottles (for comparison, Moët produces about 5 million) and he exports about 70% of his champagne to Asia, North America and the rest of Europe.
Blanc de Blancs Réserve Privée, 100 % Chardonnay, is a “fresh, bright sparkler,” says Parker who gives it 90 points. Its bouquet is grapefruit and white flowers, its mouth is white pepper, lemon, lime. Wonderful as an aperitif and also can be paired with food.
Bruno Paillard, Avenue de Champagne, 51100 Reims, France http://www.champagnebrunopaillard.com
Louis Roederer’s future was set when Tsar Alexander II, already a devotee of the champagne, ordered his personal sommelier one day in 1876 to see to it that the bottles served in his court should be markedly distinguished from all others. Hence the birth of “Cristal.” After the Russian Revolution of 1917, only then was Cristal allowed to be sold the world over.
The Louis Roederer house was first established in 1776 and has been in the same family since 1819. Today it can boast of being still one of the largest Champagne domains independently owned. They produce approximately 3 million bottles per year and sell in approximately 80 countries.
Champagne Louis Roederer, 51100 Reims, France http://www.champagne-roederer.com
Pol Roger has, for a long time, had friends in high places. During a dinner in Paris, the English Ambassador, Duff Cooper, introduced Sir Winston Churchill to Odette Pol-Roger. At that time, 1945, Sir Winston Churchill was already a man who had marked history. He was fond of saying that Pol Roger (Odette? the champagne?) incarnated all that was well and beautiful of France.
Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill; Its composition is a jealously guarded secret. It is a robust and mature champagne, one with characteristic power and refinement.
Pol Roger 1, rue Henri Le Large 51200 Epernay http://www.polroger.com
Since taking it over not too many years ago,brothers Henry and Emmanuel Fourny have transformed their family domain nestled in the traditional geographic are of Vertus in Champagne. They do something unusual with their Chardonnay, they cultivate it as if it were a Pinot Noir. Why? It has to do with their vineyards’ South-South East exposure.
Vve Fourny et Fils Champagne Rose Premier Cru Vertus Brut has notes of rose and delicate, soft notes of hyacinth. This vintage comes exclusively from the Domain’s terroir, “Les Gilottes 1er Cru.” Refined, velvety bubbles.
Champagne Veuve Fourny 5, rue du Mesnil, Vertus, France http://www.champagne-veuve-fourny.com
Gosset Champagne makes not just delicious champagne but also packages it in wonderful ready-to-gift packs. The Gosset Grand Reserve, 750 ml., is sold with a portable isothermic bottle keeper and a replaceable cork. The house also sells cognac, which they make in the cognac region of France. Another choice for their champagne is the “Excellence Brut” sold in 1500ml. bottles.
Champagne Gosset, 12 Rue Godart Roger, Epernay, 51200 http://www.champagne-gosset.com
Joseph Perrier makes a beautiful gift bottle called the Glamour Josephine. It comes packaged in a red velvet-lined box. The ornate bottle is sure to please any discerning Diva-Luxe in your life who also knows good champagne.
Joseph Perrier Champagne 69 Av. de Paris, 51016 Châlons-en-Champagne France http://www.josephperrier.com
Moët et Chandon. Who in the civilized world has not heard of Moët et Chandon? As noted earlier, producer of 5 million bottles per year, they can truthfully say they have a hold on a large portion of the world’s market of champagne. That’s a lot of New Year’s Toasts!
Still, if you ever get the chance to go to the Domain it is well worth it. Why? Not only will you get the chance to tour the cellars, but you might just get the opportunity to taste their Grand Cru 1975. Hint: it’s a champagne to drink on more occasions than just New Year’s Eve!
Now…as promised…A Sauternes. Chateau Bastor-LaMontagne. This Sauternes is a classic, class act. It is in fact a Grand Cru Classe’. Its pale, light acidity is a dessert in a drink, an aperitif that leads delightfully into the pop of a champagne cork. Delicate, refined, white blossom, pear and ginger.
I might even be tempted to create a champagne cocktail out of the two. Hello 2011!
by Paige Donner
Rarely do you get such a glimpse of how basic an element wine is to French culture than at something like the Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants. At an event like this one, you really get the feel of how wine is actually a basic food group for the French. It’s not a luxury or something that needs to be “mastered” but rather as elementary to daily life and basic needs as is water.
As a tourist or even as a resident foreigner, this Wine Salon is something I plan trips around and mark on the calendar months in advance. Held this past weekend at the ginormous Expo center that is Porte de Versailles in Paris, I had the chance to sip and taste new and just released vintages from over 250 independent wineries and winemakers from all the regions of France. The question was not a matter of access (entry cost 6 Euro) or accessibility (all the wineries were pouring). The question was whether I had the stamina to last a whole day. If I were a real pro, I would have gone over the course of each of the consecutive five days and prolonged the learning and the enjoyment, the listening and the tasting, stretching it out for every last drop.
The Salon des Vins des Vignerons Independants is something that everyone even remotely interested in wine must attend at some time. As a window onto wine and French culture, it’s unsurpassed. It’s also no-frills. And it’s held twice a year – in the Fall and in the Spring. The only people I envied as I roamed the alphabetized aisles, were those who were savvy enough to have come with their rolling suitcases which they packed full of bottles and cases of France’s most excellent and affordable wines.
Here’s a sampling:
Champagne Philippe Martin
They are located right in the heart of Champagne just between Reims and Epernay in Cumieres. They grow their chardonnay and pinot noir grapes on 10 hectares and produce 6 crus.
Cuvée de Réserve Brut – dry, frothy bubbly. At 14.40 Euro per bottle at the Salon it stands up to any of the internationally known brands.
Millésime 2002 – aged and made with pinot noir grapes as well as chardonnay, the richer, fruitier grape is detectable as soon as the elixir hits your tongue. At 22 Euro per bottle, you can see why I wish I’d had my rolling suitcase with me.
Domaine Gerard Metz “The power of harmony”
The Salon tipplers tended toward the Alsatian wines, I noticed. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Paris had just seen its first snowfall of the season this weekend. It’s easy to think of a spicy Gewurztraminer and heavy spaetzle and sausages when it gets cold outside – all things that come from Alsace.
Gewurztraminer Vielles Vignes 2009 at 9 Euro per bottle this tending toward almost sweet gewurz tasted of the grape. In the sense that I almost felt like I had popped a whole grape into my mouth and was drinking of it, and a splash of alcohol.
Gewurztraminer “Cuvée Mégane” 2009 This guy was just shy of a late harvest wine. Its gold color spoke of its autumn, rich flavors even before it made itself known in the mouth. It sells for 13.50Euro per bottle.
Bourgogne – Chablis
It’s just too novel when you come to the realization that these wines you’ve long loved come from an actual place. In this case, Chablis.
Moreau Naudet at 5, rue des Fosses, Chablis offered Petit Chablis, Chablis 1er Cru and Chablis Grand Cru on offer. He ages his white wine for 24 mos. in barrel.
Chablis 1er Cru Vaillons 2007 was smooth and classy; its light golden color reminded me of summer in California. 26 Euro
Chablis 1er Cru Montmains 2008 had lively acid playing throughout the mouth. Well-balanced and a white you can keep for a few years and still enjoy. 26 Euro
Domaine Millet “Intensement Chablis”
The winery is in Tonnerre, still within Bourgogne. The Petit Chablis L’Angelus and Petit Chablis were noteworthy, all 2009. They also had their Chablis Vieilles Vignes and Chablis 1er Cru Vaucoupin for sale and to taste. The maturity of the old vines tend to be the wines I gravitate towards. www.chablis-millet.com
Côte du Rhône, St. Joseph
Domaine du Mortier, Saint Joseph by Didier Crouzet. What’s a wine tasting if you don’t indulge in a bit of the sacred St. Joseph? Part of the geography of Côte Rôtie, a St. Joseph can take good care of you through the Winter. On 10.5 acres Mssr. Crouzet cultivates his vines of character.
Domaine du Mortier, St. Joseph, 2008 A little light. Not often found in this wine or appellation, it can offer a more drinkable alternative to what is usually paired with a good steak or winter roast.
Domaine du Mortier, St. Joseph, 2009 is a considerably more powerful wine. 2009 vintages, like the 2010 harvest, will have legs for years to come. Dark fruit, some wood, wine with a backbone.
In this cluster were three domains that are run by the same winemakers and which are all independent. The majority they’ve brought to market this year have won a medal or an award or even a “coup de coeur” from the Guide Hachette des Vins 2011.
Domaine de Fussiacus Pouilly-Vinzelles 2008. These grapes are from 30-40 year old vines. This lovely tinted yellow gold nectar won the Medaille d’Or Paris et Macon 2010. It was selling for a mere 10.30 Euro.
Domaine Chateau de Chaintre Bourgogne Blanc 2008 is the one which you’ll find in the Guide Hachettes des Vins 2011 listed as the Coup de Coeur. It is burgundy chardonnay and its well-balanced, proper notes and aromas make it a perfect choice for a dinner with family and friends.
Domaine de Fussiacus Vielles Vignes Pouilly-Fuisse 2008 had a nose of citrus and a delicious mouth of calcaire and mineral hints. Another one of those wines I wish I’d bought a case of. 15.10 Euro per bottle.
From this region down near Perpignan which is still part of Languedoc-Roussillon you will find wines that have the garrigue in their molecules.
Abbaye de Fontfroide
A husband and wife winemaking team, Nicolas de Chevron Villette married his wife, Laure d’Andoque de Seriege, whose family has owned the Abbaye de Fontfroide and the vines that surround it for centuries. They have a tasting room, a restaurant and they offer vacation stays. It is also just 15 km. away from the region’s only 3 Michelin star restaurant run by France’s Best Chef 2010.
Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Deo Gratias 2007 A finessed red wine that speaks of the region and the terroir. The nose is aromatic, the mouth hints of the garrigue.
Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Oculus 2009 Though this is a white, it boasts a nutty mouth and an aromatic nose. At 7.10Euro a bottle, it is an elegant wine to serve at table with roasted poultry and new potatoes for example.
Abbaye de Fontfroide Cuvée Deo Gratias 2009 The grapes are Roussanne, Marsanne predominantly and the juice is new barrel aged. 12.90 per bottle. www.fontfroide.com
TODAY’S SPECIAL is a heartwarming comedy with a culinary flavor starring Aasif Mandvi (Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Last Airbender), and renowned Indian actress and best selling cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey.
Samir (Mandvi) is a sous chef who dreams of becoming the head chef at an upscale Manhattan restaurant. When he is passed over for a promotion he impulsively quits and lets his co-worker Carrie (Jess Weixler, TEETH) know that he intends to go to Paris and apprentice under a master French chef. Dreams must be put aside though after his father Hakim (Harish Patel, RUN FAT BOY RUN) has a heart attack and Samir is forced to take over Tandoori Palace, the nearly bankrupt family restaurant in Jackson Heights. Samir’s relationship with his parents and his heritage is immediately put to the test. He has been estranged from his father since the death of his older brother, and his mother Farrida, (played by legendary cookbook writer and actor, Madhur Jaffrey), is consumed with finding a wife for her remaining son.
While Samir is being forced to forsake his dreams, he is desperately trying to master Indian cooking to salvage the family business. Luckily, he crosses paths with Akbar, a taxi driver, passionate chef, and worldly raconteur (portrayed by the icon of Indian cinema, Naseeruddin Shah, MONSOON WEDDING). Akbar inspires Samir and teaches him to trust his senses more than recipes; to stop measuring his life, and to start truly living it. With Akbar’s guidance, Samir has a chance to rediscover his heritage and his passion for life through the enchanting art of cooking Indian food.
TODAY’S SPECIAL is produced by Nimitt Mankad’s Inimitable Pictures and Lillian LaSalle’s Sweet 180 (Loggerheads, Sweetland). The film is directed by Sundance alumni David Kaplan (Year of the Fish) and is written by Aasif Mandvi and Jonathan Bines (Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel).
Rating: R. Running Time: 99 minutes.
Also…some Tips for A Healthy Holiday Kitchen:
By Paige Donner
At Paris’s port de la Villette on a recent weekend I had the good fortune to meet over 250 producers of French gastronomic delights. They were all direct from the countryside, having brought their specialties to the big city for a wonderful public celebration of French Food and Wine.
Safran de St. Hilaire
One of the more unique “farmers” I met was a woman who runs a Saffron farm with her family about 2 hours outside of Paris. It’s a little known sector of agriculture in France and one that once thrived but has since been mostly outsourced.
Still, this woman labors over her fields of purple saffron flowers, Safran de St. Hilaire, with her husband, Thierry Parde’ and their children, to produce some of the finest saffron available on the market. Each flower produces only three, at most, pistils of saffron that must be hand plucked ever so gently and guarded for safe-keeping until it can be put in small glass vials and spice jars. It is stunning to think that such an industry still exists anywhere in the entire world, let alone in France. Mind you, when you taste a crème bruleé á la safran, you’ll understand the rhyme and reason behind all the fuss. Mr. Parde’ Thierry/ Les Migeons/ 45320 Chantecoq/ 33 02 38 94 21 36
Celebration of Tastebuds
“Papilles,” means tastebuds in French. So it was the “Celebration of Tastebuds,” and just in time to start stocking up on holiday gift shopping. Most all the wine regions of France were represented, including small and mid-sized producers of Champagne.
The Inter Rhône, the Rhone Valley’s wine syndicate, was a sponsor of the event so the wonderful wines from Côtes du Rhône were on hand for daily on-the-hour wine tastings. www.vins-rhone.com
Les Crus des Côtes du Rhône
The signature of the Côtes du Rhône are its Grand Crus. They are known throughout the world: the rolling hills of the l’Hermitage and the hillside vineyards of Gigondas. Each of the distinct terroirs has been studied intensely by the experts before being awarded such supreme distinction. Have you ever experienced the power of a Côte Rôtie or a Cornas? Have you had the good fortune to drink of the finesse of a St.-Joseph or the smoothness of a Condrieu? These are all definite entries on the Top Ten list of things to do when in France.
Did You Know?
Tavel is the only wholly rosé Cru and the first rosé in France that is classified in the category of “gastronomy.”
AOC Château Grillet: This is one of the “biggest” white wines from France that you’ll ever get to drink. Its terroir, a whole 3,5 hectares, is the smallest apellation designation in the entire Côtes du Rhône.
Further south is the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Displaying country humility, the Château du Mourre du Tendre attended the Salon Papilles en famille, meaning father, mother, son. They made the journey up to Paris from Courthézon, where the domaine is located.
Speaking with Mme. Paumel and her winemaker husband, is what buying wine in France is all about. Families like this represent the living history of the vine and the tradition. Nevermind that Parker gives them a 92 – consistently – on his yearly trips to the region. One sip and you know you are drinking wine in a class all its own.
When Mssr. and Mme. Paumel explained to me they do no barrel aging, I was surprised. “The wine is just right as it is. There’s no need to smooth it out with any oak,” is how they explained it to me. Their wine wisdom is a cumulative 4 generations, so it’s probably safe to say that they know how to make good wine.
It’s also an incredible buy: Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2002 Cuvée Tradition, 22 Euro. Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005 Cuvée Prestige, 33 Euro. Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006 Cuvée Prestige 31 Euro. You won’t find them selling any newer vintages. They know that good wine is worth waiting for. www.chateaudumourredutendre.com Courthézon, France
|French Cuisine at Unesco! [Courtesy Paris Daily Photo]
You probably noticed it if you came to France, food plays a really large role in our culture. Everyone knows how to cook – at least a little – and when you go to any restaurant you expect the food to be good! Of course things have changed (a lot of restaurants use ready made dishes now), but the demand for quality is still there. So I guess it’s no that surprising that, as you may have heard, Unesco officials just declared “French cuisine” as part of the “intangible cultural heritage of humanity” (read more on the NYT)! It’s probably a little far fetched, but it’s good for our nation self esteem. And to illustrated this, here are some zucchini roulés. What’s good, must also look good 😉
Everywhere where Thanksgiving is celebrated, we have a favorite recipe that each of us takes out, dusts off, – often from our Grandmother’s recipe book – and cooks up each year to share with our friends and loved ones.
And while Thanksgiving has become a Food Fest for most of us, it is firstly a celebration of gratitude. With gratitude as the cornerstone ingredient for manifesting abundance, this is, then, a powerful recipe: Thankfulness + Good Food = Abundance.
Thanksgiving is also a time of sharing. Back on Plymouth Rock, it is significant to remember that the Mayflower Pilgrims would not have survived that first winter had it not been for the Native Americans sharing their knowledge and abundance of the land and native foods such as corn and beer. (Yes, beer!)
So, yes, Thanksgiving is a time for families and food. It is also a time of sharing and gratitude. So…what was your grandmother’s favorite recipe? Mine was whipped yams baked with mini marshmallows. I think I’ll start practice cooking it now again in preparation for the big day…!
Help for the Holidays
If your family is one of the many struggling this holiday season I would urge you to research the non-profits in your area that can help meet your needs. I have listed just a few of the many valuable organizations serving the residents of the 23rd Senate District.
- FOOD Share, Ventura County
- Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles
- Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Los Angeles County
- Manna Conejo Valley Food Bank, Ventura and Los Angeles County
- Valley Food Bank, San Fernando Valley
21st Annual Malibu Pie Festival
Kara Seward with her pie entry for Malibu Pie Festival, October.
The Malibu United Methodist Church hosted their 21st Annual Malibu Pie Festival last month. The proceeds from pie sales and silent auction items went to support the church’s youth and family programs and service projects. I am proud to announce that my staffer for the Malibu area, Kara Seward, entered her family’s blueberry pie recipe and won third place in the Fruit Pie category. Congratulations to all the entries!
by Paige Donner
Five straight days’ celebrating nothing but chocolate and the only coherent thought left in my brain is that the people who thought of, and then carried out, the Salon du Chocolat are brilliance personified.
“Five days of chocolate madness,” is what they call it and they are absolutely right! That they graciously scheduled the chocolate extravorgasma over Halloween weekend, in France, a country that doesn’t celebrate our American sugar-and-ghouls-day, was just, well, awfully sweet of them! (okay…frightful pun!)
Their names are Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet and they dedicated this year’s Paris show to Fair Trade chocolate, naming it The Green Show.
In fact the 2010 Salon du Chocolat was the event for the
The event has historically represented a link between cocoa-producing countries and chocolate consumers. It has long provided a platform for people to meet and exchange views. Alter Eco, the Fair Trade chocolate brand and importer with offices all over Europe and also in the U.S., was a big sponsor this year, as was Max Havelaar, the French arm of the Fair Trade coalition.
The Paris Salon du Chocolat featured a daily chocolate fashion show where all garments were designed by prestige chocolatiers and made out of chocolate. It featured musical entertainment, the “chocolate trends” parade, photographic exhibitions, a chocolate sculpture competition and more to showcase all the event’s “green”initiatives, which were designed to raise awareness of sustainable development and ethical consumption.
Fair Trade Farmer, Max Havelaar France And Chocolatier Bonnat
One of the more interesting breakout seminars I sat in on was all about Fair Trade and direct from farmer sourcing of cacao. The speakers, a Fair Trade farmer from Peru who spoke in Spanish which was translated by the moderator, Marie-Amélie Ormières of Max Havelaar France, and 4th generation chocolatier Stéphane Bonnat featured a lively discussion about how cacao provides a healthy means of livelihood to farmers who are paid a fair trade wage.
“Cacao for Coca,” is a successful initiative in Peru where coca plantations are being replaced by Cacao plantations farmed under Fair Trade policies. Within five years of re-planting, said the Peruvian cacao farmer, families are able to replace what they earned from coca with their Cacao crops. He also pointed out that the cacao are all mixed with reforestation programs i.e. the cacao plantations are all mixed with tree plantations. Mexico has the oldest cacao plantations cultivated by man.
It was a lucky seminar to sit in on…Master Chocolatier Mssr. Bonnat passed out rounds of his trademark, pure grade cacao artisanal chocolates – several times! – and the Peruvian farmer broke open an actual cacao fruit and had those of us who would, take the cacao seeds from inside and chew on it. It’s the first time I had seen a cacao fruit up close and certainly the first time I’d eaten a raw cacao nut. Bonnat asked us if we could taste the pure essence of the chocolate in the nut. I must say that I did and could understand why it’s considered such a complete food, the “food of the Gods.”
“You can live on chocolate. Chocolate, a little bread and beer. All you’d be missing is calcium,” explained Stéphane Bonnat .
Encouraging the development of chocolate businesses, Entrepreneur Magazine tells us that chocolate consumption has gone from “sinful to unstoppable.” Joan Steuer, founder and president of Chocolate Marketing LLC, a Los Angeles consulting firm, notes a 40% increase in chocolate sales along with a strong interest in “dark, artisanal, organic, socially responsible and nutraceutically enhanced chocolates.” AIWF
Researching the field of sustainability, it is important to recognize that this area focuses on any environmental factor that sustains, maintains, or improves the quality of our life. While being an obvious component of the sustainable system, food nurtures our basic needs for survival and for remaining well. So, does eating chocolate fit into this sustainable explanation?
New York’s Salon du Chocolat is coming up!
When luxurious cuisine meets with luscious wine, you know it’s time for the return of the 7th Annual San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival. This November join the wave of epicureans taking over America’s Finest City in a week-long experience your tastebuds will never forget. November 17 -21.
THE SAN DIEGO BAY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL
Chef Roy Yamaguchi, Chef Jon Sloan, Chef Celestino Drago, Chef Nico Chessa, Chef Katsuya Fukushima, Chef Kenny Gilbert, and Chef Ron Oliver design a six-course menu for the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival’s Celebrity Chef Luncheon
SAN DIEGO, CA (October 18, 2010) – The San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival is pleased to announce its line-up of celebrity chefs appearing at the November 21st Celebrity Chef Luncheon, Presented by Wine Spectator, which includes Chef Roy Yamaguchi and Chef Jon Sloan of Roy’s, Chef Celestino Drago of Drago Ristorante, Chef Nico Chessa of Valentino, Chef Katsuya Fukushima of José Andrés Catering by Ridgewell’s, Chef Kenny Gilbert of Bravo TV’s Top ChefSeason 7, and Chef Ron Oliver of The Marine Room La Jolla.
The luncheon is the culmination of a weeklong series of festivities, where nationally acclaimed chefs and legendary wineries come together to prepare a six-course meal paired with wines. Each table features a different winemaker or winery representative pouring a selection of fine wines from their portfolio. The prestigious list includes Domaine Serene, JUSTIN Vineyard & Winery, L’Aventure, Robert Biale Vineyards, Spring Mountain Vineyards, Laird Family Estates, Martinelli Winery, Wines of the Loire Valley, and others. Following the luncheon is the American Institute of Wine & Food’s Big Bottle Auction, a live auction that raises funds for the AIWF’s Culinary and Enology Scholarship Program.
“We’re very excited to have such a talented line-up of chefs for this year’s Celebrity Chef Luncheon,” said Michelle Metter, co-producer of the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.
“The luncheon serves as a great platform for bringing together chefs from all over the U.S. to showcase their culinary skills at the food and wine festival. Most importantly, however, the chefs are helping support the education of future chefs and wine experts.” – Read More on Local Food And Wine
The Wine Spectator Celebrity Chef Luncheon & AIWF Big Bottle Auction takes place on Sunday, November 21 from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at Roy’s San Diego Waterfront. Celebrity Artist Christopher M. serves as host and emcee for the afternoon, while Master Sommelier Joseph Spellman will be on-hand to provide commentary during the live auction. Following the six-course food and wine pairing, the AIWF Big Bottle Auction begins, giving attendees the opportunity to bid on an array of items such as jet-setting vacation packages, large format bottles, and one-of-a-kind items that are perfect for the food and wine enthusiast.
By Paige Donner
Confrérie des Vignerons des Côtes du Ventoux roughly translates to the Brotherhood of Ventoux Winemakers. Vignerons is one of those wonderful French words. The word itself sounds like Patron and Vine combined. It evokes the associative alliteration of “patron of the vines.” And what is a winemaker, a vigneron, if not a patron of the vines? Someone who cultivates, nurtures, tends and harvests fruits brought forth from deep-rooted vines.
And what is wine, if not an art?
AOC Ventoux is the wine region right next to the celebrated Châteauneuf du Pape. Not as famous as its neighbor, the area’s wineries nonetheless produce outstanding wines. “We just have to say that we’re next to Châteauneuf du Pape for people to recognize what we produce. It’s the same terroir. The same vines,” explained the proprietor and winemaker André Berthet-Rayne of Domaine Berthet-Rayne in Cairanne. He gestured to his fields of Bourboulenc, Grenache, Roussane and Clairette with the deeply tinted purple hands that are the tell-tale signs of the winemaker during crush.
He also produces AOC Côtes du Rhônes wines including a Domaine Berthet-Rayne Castel Mireio 2008 from old vines, approximately 40 years old. This red has top notes of mushrooms, offers a waft of musky and finishes with a balanced acid, fullness in the mouth. It also comes in a white. Vignerons-Cairanne.
The Confrérie was revived in 1982 and today is the ambassador for Côtes du Ventoux wines. It is made up of a small group of wine lovers who are expert on wine and the soils. Newly inducted members have to pass a tasting test, do some oath-taking and then they are allowed to receive the taste-vin engraved with the Poudadouïre, the symbol of the brotherhood.
Ventoux AOC Terroir
There are several distinctive soil types in the Ventoux wine region, a region that has more wineries than all of New Zealand combined, according to Morgan Williams. Williams is a New Zealand native and winemaker who currently works at Château Unang, a 9th century château and vineyard in the village of Malemort du Comtat. He will tell you straight up that none of the locals buy Châteauneuf wines. Not when you can get a Ventoux wine that’s just as good and not nearly as expensive.
Altered Safre is one of the Ventoux soil types and exhibits a light, sandy texture combined with pebbles. Ochre sands, (red earth), and gypsum, (white rock), are also to be found on the natural steps that form the “Comtat Terraces,” the geological formation between the plains and the Mont Ventoux mountain from which the AOC region takes its name. At the base of Mont Ventoux, in Bedoin, home to many noted wineries, the alluvial fan presents a variety of soils – brown, red and white -which lend themselves to growing the highly characteristic wines.
Mazan is a choice starting point for a journey of discovery of Ventoux wines, and not just because the Marquis de Sade, in 1772, held the first theater festival in Provence in the village of Mazan. [Nearby Avignon now holds its annual, world renowned theater festival during the summer]. It is also a wine heritage site with archeological digs unearthing wine storage amphorae from ca. 40BC, the Augustan era.
But most importantly, Mazan offers a number of outstanding and easy to access wineries and wine paths. Domaine des Cambades is a bit off the beaten path but still close to Mazan. Proprietor/winemaker Hervé Vincent will graciously meet you at the crossroads if you call in advance and tell him that you are coming by. Domaine des Cambades’ vintage, Il Etait Une Fois makes a stop at the winery, every bit worthwhile and an absolute must.
For some oenogeek activity, an afternoon at the Château Pesquié is one to put on the list. The winery, located in Mormoiron, offers a path around the lovely 18th century château itself which is a beautiful specimen of Provencal architecture. The path offers sweeping views over Mont Ventoux and Mormoiron, a charming local village. Along the path you will see the AOC Ventoux grape varietals: Carignan, Cinsault, Syrah, and Grenache for the reds and rosés and Clairette and Roussanne for the whites. The path is about 1 km and takes approximately 45 minutes to walk. The cellar also shows cross-sections of the estate’s soils.
Carignan is a grape very present in the Côtes du Ventoux appellation. It is Spanish in origin and is cultivated to produce low yields. Winemakers expect to get qualities of robustness, color, power and liveliness from the juice.
For three generations the family has been making wine at Domaine du Bon Remède. Lucile and Frederic Delay say that 2010 will be a good year. They use 40-50 year old Grenache vines to blend with their 90% syrah, 10% Grenache Secret de Vincent vintage 2008. Their 2006 is all sold out and not even a wine cellar visit at the winery will get you a bottle, let alone a case. Their barrel and cask storehouse make the trek out to the winery still worthwhile.
Domaine de Fondrèche is another to mark down on your map. It’s at the intersection of two ancient Roman roads. And, of course, Domaine des Anges, at the top of Notre Dame des Anges hill, with its splendid views of Mont Ventoux, lend a Ventoux wine tasting trip its deep red, dark fruit flavor, perfect for crush and the Autumnal season.
*Editor’s Note: Truffle season, “Rabasse,” in Provencal, begins in November.
Through her unique style of winemaking, Beth Cutler hopes to bring obscure grape varieties out of the underground, making them more wildly recognized and respected by both winemakers and consumers alike. Where some might use varietals like Touriga Nacional and Alicante Bouchet in small proportions for blending, Bear Flag allocates a hearty 20% of the bottle.
The bottles’ artwork is another distinct touch that sets Bear Flag apart from the rest. The colorful cartoonish collage put together by Argentinean artist Eduardo Bertone has an eclectic punk rock aesthetic that perfectly illustrates Bear Flag’s mission, and Cutler’s style of winemaking. Read MORE on BRAND X…
La saison des vendanges commence! [Transl. = Wine Harvest is Here!] TWITTER.COM/LOCALFOODWINE FACEBOOK/LOCALFOODANDWINE
By Paige Donner
Corsica, off the French south coast, produces delicious dry white and subtle rosé wines that are best drunk chilled, young and fresh as an aperitif or to accompany light meals of seafood, salads, tapas.
Wine of Corsica is the common appellation to all the wines of Corsica, with the following AOC classifications related to either the soils or the villages in which the vineyards are grown: Ajaccio, Calvi, Coteaux du Cap Corse et Muscat du Cap Corse, Figari Patrimonio, Porto-Vecchio, Sartène.
While Corsica is definitely “south of France,” it does not fall under the newly minted branding of “Sud de France,” a term that is being used by the region of Languedoc-Roussillon as they voyage forth once again onto the world export stage with their wines and other agricultural products.
Corsican wines are one of those “well-kept secrets.” The island, which the French call “L’île de Beauté,” produces some great wines but they aren’t exported much overseas…yet. Set in the Mediterranean Sea, many of the island’s wines originate from Italy. The sun’s reflection on both white rocks and the Mediterranean brings even more energy to the vine which, combined with low yields, will eventually produce a very concentrated grape.
- Cap Corse Wine This white wine is pretty rare and much appreciated by winelovers. Many agree that it is the best white wine in Corsica.
- Sartene Wine This is an excellent wine, and the red San Michele is definitely a must-taste. These are fruity and warm Corsican wines.
- Patrimonio This wine is as famous as the classic Corsican appellation and its quality is constantly growing. Corsican reds and whites are increasingly famous even out of the island. Patrimonio rosé wines are also fine wines. Patrimonio wines have a pretty strong character that originate from the soil, which is composed mostly of clay and limestone. This Corsican wine is full-bodied but still light and fruity.
- Ajaccio The Ajaccio French wine boasts the distinction of being the most elevated wine region in France. Most of its vineyards are located 500 m and above. This Corsica wine benefits from the warm weather, and the sea air provides it with a very particular flavor too. This French wine fully benefits from the Corsican environment thus it is light coloured, fruity and has a pronounced pepper flavor in the mouth. The Ajaccio soil is mostly granite.
They also have excellent beaches in Corsica!
by Paige Donner
Terrasses du Larzac, Coteaux du Languedoc, AOC.
Terrasses du Larzac is a relatively new appellation – AOC status since the 2004 harvest– in the Hérault region of Languedoc-Roussillon in Southern France. In this sense it is absolutely reflective of the Coteaux du Languedoc’s re-establishment of the quality and prestige of its region’s vineyards, winemakers and especially its wines.
The Domaine de la Sauvageonne’s 2006 ‘Les Ruffes’ wine was placed in the top 100 wines of 2008 in The Wine Spectator, the leading USA wine magazine. Not only a tribute to the Domaine and its Director, Gavin Crisfield, this is proof of the quality potential in the Terrasses du Larzac.
The Terrasses du Larzac is a V-shaped area spreading from the Pic Saint Baudile, its cliffs and benches, that graduates on downward to the point of the V towards Aniane and Lake Salagou. The area encompasses 32 communes (villages such as Saint Jean de la Blaquière, Puechabon, Lodève, St.-Jean-de-Fos…) and produces some 75,000 hectoliters of AOC Languedoc, and only 9000 hl of AOC Languedoc -Terrasses du Larzac, annually. While the highest points of the natural boundaries of the Terrasses du Larzac reach over 800m high, the only planted and permitted AOC zones are between 50m and 300m high on the foothills of the Causse.
READ MORE on Local Food And Wine – Sud de France
by Paige Donner
Picpoul de Pinet, also spelled Piquepoul de Pinet, is both a rare white French grape varietal that thrives in the South of France and it is a designated appellation with its own A.O.C. classification in an area that hugs the Thau Lagoon between Sete and Agde in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of Southern France.
This fresh, crisp wine that splashes hints of lime and green apple in the mouth pairs beautifully with seafoods. It accents especially well the oysters and fresh prawns that grow in abundance off this Languedoc coastal region and the Thau Lagoon where the sun-loving, late-blooming grape thrives and where it enjoys its own Languedocian regional appellation.
A Great Future For A Little Known Grape
Piquepoul, the grape varietal, is used to make the light acidic wine called Picpoul de Pinet, with floral and citrus fruit aromas. It follows then, that the AOC Coteaux du Languedoc, Picpoul de Pinet classification, applies only to white wines.
This rare, ancient French grape thrives in the coastal sands near Sète in the Languedoc, the fishing village that affronts the Mediterranean Sea. The refreshing acidity of this full-bodied wine pairs especially well with seafood because of its more floral, citrus and peach flavors than the minerality of a Sancerre . Picpoul is mostly enjoyed by Languedociens or tourists visiting the area, at present, and is not yet exported as much as say, another rare French varietal, Viognier.
This clear, light-gold wine breathes appetizing aromas of peaches, juicy and fresh, with a back note of lemon-lime. Crisp and tart, white-fruit flavors and lemon-squirt acidity are fresh and cleansing in a very long finish. Not overly complex but bright and appealing, it’s a first-rate seafood wine. It has been called the Muscadet of the south of France. It is the wine that is usually served with oysters that can be found along the coasts of the Languedoc.
Serve very cool between 6 and 8°C to accompany all seafood,
by Paige Donner
Two prevailing characteristics of the Languedoc-Roussillon are that the region is steeped in history, specifically wine history, and it is known for its ripe, red wines.
But this once again up-and-coming wine region is taking its future in its own hands by using innovative approaches to freshen up its image. One of those approaches is to celebrate its vineyards’ white and rose’ wines.
In June and then again in November, the wineries of the region are encouraged to throw open their doors to tasters and wine buyers to especially highlight their rose’ and white vintages.
Back in the region’s heyday, during the XVII c., wines of the Midi, particularly its Muscats, and especially its Muscats secs, rivalled the wines of Burgundy. Wines from St. Georges d’Orques, a village where wineries still operate today, were known from border to border throughout France.
On a tasting of the Greater Languedoc region, these are some wines you ought to get the chance to try:
Cave de Roque Brun, St. Chinian. They are in the Guide Hachette and have won a Gold Medal in Paris’s Concours Generale Agricole.
Domaines de Gallieres, a new vineyard that presented its “Salsa de la Vigne” at this year’s tasting festival, a light-hearted rose’ that pairs well with melon, prosciutto, feta wrapped in marinated red peppers.
Domaine Pibarot in Mus who handpicks their grapes and uses no pesticides.
Domaine du Silene. Legend has it that an effigy of Silenus, the tutor to Dionysius the Greek God of wine and the grape, was found on the premises and watches over the estate. Vineyards thrive in the exceptional clay and limestone soils.
Domaine de Montnegre whose Rose’ is under the AOC Coteaux du Languedoc and made by blending Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault. Fresh and aromatic, it pairs well with light repasts. Their white, a blend of old Carignan blanc and Ugni blanc, is vin de Pays.
Le Domaine Puech, in Saint-Clement-de-Riviere, is a local favorite. Their Vin de Pays d’Oc Chardonnay with a floral, vanilla nose and a well-balanced, ample mouth.
Les Chemins de Carabote has a Terrasses du Larzac which exhibits both strength and elegance, richness and complexity. Featured in Guide Hachette.
Les Vignerons du Pic offers their “Gres de Montpellier,” which is their wine that’s on the map.
The AOC Gres de Montpellier was obtained in 2003 and encompasses most of the villages that are situated in the “Agglomeration” Montpellier. With this classification, the vineyards of the region are re-exerting and re-establishing their importance in the national culture of wine.
Domaine Jordy, which can be found in Le Bosc, keeps 500 hectares of vineyards under cultivation amidst 2500 hectares of garrigue, the native Mediterranean scrub brush thought to lend its aromatics of thyme, rosemary, lavendar to the wines. To keep with their whites and rose’s try the Cers Vent, Viognier and Rose’ cuvee’ speciale, as well as their Blanc vendanges passerillees for a dessert wine.
By Paige Donner
Just outside Murviel-les-Montpelliers, and not too far from St. Georges D’Orques, both villages in the heart of the Languedoc-Roussillon in Sud de France, perches Domaine de Saumarez on a pretty hillside whose sweeping views take in the Mediterranean Sea in the not-too-distant yonder.
In 2006, the winery’s top cuvee’, their “Aalenien, ’04” earned a full-bodied 92 points from Wine Spectator (Kim Marcus, 2006). “2009 is going to be another spectacular vintage,” says Williamson. Indeed, there’s not a soul in France today who isn’t singing the praises of the 2009 vintage year. As for 2010, “It was a hard winter but the vines seem to be quite happy now,” he says.
It was nearly a decade ago when Liz and Robin decided to shuck everything – him his banking career, her, accounting – and pursue their passion of wine. After repeated and extended wine tasting trips throughout the world and France, they settled on looking for a vineyard to call home in the region between the Spanish border and Nimes. This region, the “Midi,” or Languedoc-Roussillon, is the hub of wine making in France. It’s not its most celebrated, but it is its most voluminous.
“We looked at 30 domains from the Spanish border all the way to Nimes. This was number 30,” recounts the Williamsons who are raising their two young sons up on the vineyard. “The winery had potential, even though it was a wreck,” reminisces Robin, pointing out that there was no roof on what is now the cellar and tasting room when they bought the estate back in 2003. By 2004 they had produced their first vintage. They sold their first bottles in 2006.
“Aalenien,” is not just the name of Domaine de Saumarez’s top cuvee’, it is also the name of the type of soil to be found on the property. The rocky soils are made up of Jurassic limestone that have bands of quartz running through them. This soil, found in about a 10 sq. km radius, is particular to Murviel-les-Montpellier, the 2,500 year old Roman-Gallo village that the Domaine is situated in. At its height, Murviel had 15,000 inhabitants and was one of the main towns on the ancient route traveled between Spain and Italy.
The soil makes for minimal weed growth, hence little need for pesticides nor weed killers; it is good with heavy rains because the rocky limestone is very porous yet it retains moisture at about 1 to 2 meters below the soil surface, thus keeping the vines hydrated. The region’s 300 days of sunshine per year and tendency to get high winds dries out the vines.
The Languedoc region is also known for having numerous organically farmed vineyards and in fact the region as a whole is becoming specialized in organic. It has some of the highest concentrations of organic agriculture, and viticulture, in all of France. Domaine de Saumarez is no different and will be certified organic by 2012.
Robin Williamson is the type of vintner who likes to know what he’s talking about. And he does. Before he and wife Liz bought the farm, he spent two years taking courses in oenology in Brighton. He finished his studies at the level just one shy of Master in Oenology. He’ll gleefully talk to you about stirring the lees – “batonage” – and discuss with you the merits of using food-grade fiberglass fermentation tanks and square concrete ones for the reds and why they use mostly French oak barrels with only two American oak barrels thrown in the mix…But mostly he’ll tell you, “We’re farmers you know, no more or less, than farmers.”
He characterizes this as an “Old World” approach to winemaking. “In France the vigneron is still more Old World. We do it all. We’re farmers. We’re winemakers. We’re wine sellers.” He concedes that as a grape farmer and winemaker you need to remain philosophical about certain things, like the weather. “You have to always stay on the front foot,” he says, reverting to a cricket-ism.
Domaine de Saumarez makes four wines. Their top cuvee’ the Aalenien, a red. Notes of herbs, spices, minerals, olives and flowers. Their Domaine S’ red – supple, ripe, lush with a spicy edge – and their Domaine S’ white, – minerality and class, grapefruit, lemon peel that leads into a creamy width – all Coteaux du Languedoc AOC and a rose’, the Fleur de Liz, also AOC, vins de Pays de l’Herault. As a red wine with the Coteaux du Languedoc AOC classification, it will have some or all of only these varietals: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, and Cinsault.
Pic Saint-Loup in Côteaux du Languedoc produces some of the finest wines in the Midi. As a sub-appellation of the Languedoc AOC, it is petitioning vigorously, and successfully, to become its own appellation. Many foresee that it soon will succeed in these efforts.
“The vignerons of the Pic Saint-Loup have been very smart to identify their appellation with the majestic mountain of Pic St. Loup,” comments a compatriot winemaker from the Murviel-les-Montpellier sub-appellation just to the south of Pic Saint-Loup.
The Coteaux du Languedoc appellation was replaced by the appellation Languedoc AOC in 2007, but the two names will run concurrently until 2012.
The majestic peak of the St. Loup mountain is a dominantly identifying landmark for this notable region in Sud de France and it conveys the inextricably linked mark of the terroir, that of its cooler elevated vineyards which are set apart from the lower, and hotter, Languedocien plains.
The Pic Saint Loup and Hortus mountains are at the cross-roads of Legend and History. According to a children’s story, they were born from the blow of a club given by a giant who had flown into a terrible rage. Since then the mountain weeps from the Mascla spring. Pic Saint Loup also evokes the name of the sainted knight Loup who, in memory of his lady, became a hermit, singing his undying love from the top of this rocky peak…This is a land of vines and olive trees, crossed by shepherds and coal makers of every origin supplying the cities on the sea shore with wool and charcoal…
READ the complete Myth And Legend of Pic Saint Loup Wine Region on Domaine de l’Hortus
Thirty kilometers from the southern French coast, the climate is Mediterranean with the characteristic aromatic haut garrigue perfuming the terrain. The topography of the area, dominated by these two distinctive mountain peaks – Montagne de l’Hortus and Pic St. Loup itself – to the north and east means increased diurnal temperature variation which is an essential factor in the development of balanced acids and sugars in the wine grapes.
The Pic St. Loup is only red and roses. White varietals are grown in the appellation but are not bottled under the Pic Saint Loup AOC classification. Only reds are honored with that with the whites receiving a Coteaux du Languedoc, or the local Vin de Pays du Val de Montferrand also for the roses.
In fact they wineries have been quite strict in setting up their qualifications for the sub-appellation AOC:
The principal grapes must be Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah; a vintage must contain at least two and must comprise at least 90% of the blend. At least 20% of that must be Syrah, a vine that is not indigenous to the area, but was planted early last century, along with Mourvedre and Grenache, as cépages améliorateurs, during the re-planting of the country’s vines. Maximum yield is 45 hl/ha, minimum alcohol is 11.5% and the vines must be at least 5 years old. These conditions will only become steeper when the INAO accepts their petition for AOC classification. Other varieties in the blend can be Carignan and Cinsault which are allowed a maximum of 10%.
The mesoclimates of this limestone dominated terroir allow for the viticulturists to plant the heat-loving Mourvedre in the warmer, lower vineyards and use the higher vineyards to grow a more elegant style of Syrah, which responds well to the cool mountain nights.
- Size: 13 villages north of Montpellier, stretching 25 km north–south and 10 km east–west
- Area of production: 1500 hectares, with 800 ha planted to Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre
- Producers: 3 caves co-op, 36 (and counting) individual producers
Journalist and co author of the best seller “Pesticides”, Fabrice Nicolino is concerned by the consumption of meat in the world nowadays. In his book, he talks in a very straightforward way about the frightening issue of industrial meat (“bidoche”, in French). He says it’s of very poor quality, because of the way the animals are fed (with GMOs) and because of the drugs they are given. In Europe, 70% of the total cultivated area is used the feed the cattle because it takes 7 to 9 vegetal proteins to make only one animal protein. Industrial breeding doesn’t only consume lots of energy, it’s also a threat to climate balance and most of all destroys the relationship between men and animals, pushing men to be very cruel. Living beings with sensitivity are reduced to the level of a merchandise. In the book the author describes very clearly the tragic cycle of meat consumption, which is increasing with countries like China and India, to the detriment of the environment, of health (swine flu is one very good example of that), of hungry men and of animals themselves.
« Bidoche », by Fabrice Nicolino, Ed. Les Liens qui Libèrent. 19,95€.
Want to dig deeper into the issues of food and farming? Click on the links below to find more information relating to sustainable local food systems. Enjoy! Read More on Food Down The Road, Kingston and Countryside.
- Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
- Close Range by Annie Proulx
- Bad Dirt by Annie Proulx
- The Devil’s Larder by Jim Crace
- The Garden of Reading by Michael Slung
- Fertile Ground by Janette Hasse – Combines detailed information for growing your own vegetables in a small, efficient, and productive garden with dozens of recipes and ideas for eating seasonally and locally in a northern climate. Arranged in monthly chapters, an article about a food related issue accompanes each section. Available at Tara Foods, Novel Idea and Sigrid’s Natural Foods for $27.00.
- Stuffed and Starved by Raj Patel
- Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community by H.C. Flores
- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
- A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright
- First the Seed: The Political Economy of Plant Biotechnology by Jack Ralph Kloppenburg Jr.
- Gaining Ground: Making a Successful Transition to Organic Farming by the Canadian Organic Growers
- Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West by William Cronon
- The End of Food: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Food Supply—And What You Can Do About It by Thomas F. Pawlick
- The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry by Wendell Berry
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
- Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert
- Simply in Season Chilren’s Cookbook by Mark Beach and Julie Kauffman
- More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre
- Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
- Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables by Farmer John Peterson and Angelic Organics
- From Asparagus to Zucchini by Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition
- Acres: A Voice for Eco-Agriculture published by Acres U.S.A.
- The Farm Crisis: Its Causes and Solutions, The National Farmers Union’s Submission to the Ministers of Agriculture Meeting (2005)
- The Real Dirt on Farmer John
- Babette’s Feast
- Deconstructing Supper
- Fast Food Nation
- The Future of Food
- The Gleaners and I
- Like Water for Chocolate
- The Promise of the Land
- Food Inc.
For links to other relevant websites, please click on a following category:
- Local Food Directories
- Farmers Markets
- Local Food Stores
- Food Security
- Local Food Programs
- New Farmer Training and Resources
- Education Centres and Courses
- Urban Agriculture and Growing your own Food
- Food Related Events
- Activist and Action Groups
- Preservation Initiatives
- Research Initiatives
- Kingston Community Meal and Food Programs
- Cooking with Local Food
- Ontario CSA Directory — csafarms.netcompass.ca
- Durham Farm Fresh — www.durhamfarmfresh.ca
- Eat Local Sudbury — www.eatlocalsudbury.com
- Foodlink Grey-Bruce — www.foodlinkgreybruce.com
- GTA Local Food — www.gtalocalfood.ca/GTALocalFood/home.html
- Hamilton Local Food Directory — environmenthamilton.org/eatlocal/directory
- Kawartha Choice Farm Fresh — www.kawarthachoice.com/buylocal.php
- Local Flavours (Leeds, Grenville & Frontenac) — www.localflavours.org
- Ontario Farm Fresh Marketing Association — www.ontariofarmfresh.com
- Waterloo Foodlink — www.foodlink-waterlooregion.ca
- The Eat Well Guide — www.eatwellguide.org
- Kingston Market — www.geocities.com/kingstonmarket
- Farmers’ Market at Queen’s — www.thefarmersmarketatqueens.com
- Frontenac Farmers Market — www.frontenacfarmersmarket.ca
- Farmers’ Markets Ontario — www.farmersmarketsontario.com
- Harvest Ontario — www.harvestontario.com/fmoeast.html
- Desert Lake Gardens — www.dlgardens.com
- Tara Natural Foods — www.taranaturalfoods.com
- Local Family Farms — firstname.lastname@example.org
- Glenburnie Grocery (613-542-6234)
- Be Now Natural Foods — www.benownaturalfoods.ca
- Sigrids Natural Foods — www.explorekingston.com/sigrids_natural_foods.htm
- Just Food Ottawa — www.spcottawa.on.ca/ofsc
- Foodshare — www.foodshare.ca
- Toronto Food Policy Council — www.toronto.ca/health/tfpc_index.htm
- Food Net — www.opha.on.ca/foodnet
- Food Secure Canada — www.foodsecurecanada.org
- Food 2030
- Local Food Plus (Toronto) — www.localflavourplus.ca
- Foodlink Grey and Bruce — www.foodlinkgreybruce.com
- Be A Local Hero (Massachusetts) — www.buylocalfood.com
- Food Routes (USA) — www.foodroutes.org
- Sustainable Table (USA) — www.sustainabletable.org
- Everdale — www.everdale.org
- Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada – Web Courses — www.oacc.info/courses/course_web.asp
- Falls Brook Centre — www.fallsbrookcentre.ca
* New England Small Farm Institute — www.smallfarm.org
- Intervale — intervale.org
- FRILL Community Garden — www.frillgarden.org
- Sunnyside Community Garden — opirgkingston.org/info/groups/garden
- Kingston Horticultural Society — www.ikweb.com/khs
- Kingston Plant Trade — ca.groups.yahoo.com/group/kingston_plant_trade
- Sisters of Providence – Seed Sanctuary — www.providence.ca/seeds
- City Farmer — www.cityfarmer.org
- You Grow Girl: Gardening for the People — www.yougrowgirl.com
- Urban Harvester: Edible Landscape Consultant — www.urbanharvester.ca
- Taste of Kingston — www.whatsonkingston.com/tasteofkingston
- Guelph Organic Conference — www.guelphorganicconf.ca
- International Plowing Match — www.plowingmatch.org
- Canadian Organic Growers (COG) – Ottawa Chapter ECO Farm Day 2008 in Cornwall — www.cog.ca/ottawa/EFD_2008_main.htm
- Canadian Biotechnology Action Network — www.cban.ca
- ECO Perth — www.ecoperth.on.ca
Other – Kingston
- Queen’s Oxfam — clubs.myams.org/oxfam/about.html
Other – Ontario
- National Farmers Union – Ontario — www.nfu.ca/on
Other – Canada
- National Farmers Union – Canada — www.nfu.ca
- Canadian Organic Growers — www.cog.ca
- Equiterre — equiterre.org/en
- ACORN — www.acornorganic.org
Other – USA & International
- ETC Group — www.etcgroup.org/en
- The Ethicurean: Chew the Right Thing — www.ethicurean.com
- The New Farm — www.newfarm.org
- Ontario Farmland Trust — www.farmland.uoguelph.ca/oft/oft.htm
- Rare Breeds Canada — www.rarebreedscanada.ca
- Canadian Association for Food Studies — www.foodstudies.ca/public.html
Organic Research Initiatives
- Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada — www.oacc.info
- St. Paul’s Anglican Meal Program kingston.cioc.ca
- Martha’s Table kingston.cioc.ca
- Partners in Mission Food Bank kingston.cioc.ca
- Good Food Boxkingston.cioc.ca
- Food Sharing Project www.limestone.on.ca
- KFL&A Public Health Emergency and Supplemental Food Access Directorywww.kflapublichealth.ca
- Slow Food www.slowfood.com
- Taste Ontario www.tasteontario.ca/index.html
- Culiblog: Inside the Secrets of the Culinary Elite — www.culiblog.org
- Edible Tulip — www.edibletulip.typepad.com
by Paige Donner
Pinot noir is a very fickle grape, requiring the utmost attention and respect in every phase of the winemaking process. Winemakers are the first to testify to this, claiming that grapes that have been handled too much can end up making wines that lack flavor and harmony.
Clearly, Pinot noir is a risky (and more expensive) proposition for the winegrower, the winemaker, and the wine drinker. But it is precisely this high-stakes gamble that makes pinot noir all the more alluring and rewarding.
There is much debate as to the origins of the variety, although one currently popular theory is that the Pinot noir grape is an offspring of Pinot meunier and Gewurztraminer. This union helps explain the characteristics behind the beloved Pinot noir. As author Stuart Pigot notes in Planet Wine, “Pinot meunier gave Pinot noir its bright, berry aromas and initial charm, while Gewurztraminer its silkiness, extravagance, nobility, and fickleness.”
The name Pinot Noir is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” in reference to the varietals’ tightly clustered dark purple cone-shaped bunches of grapes. Therefore, Pinot noir refers both to the grape varietal as well as the wine that it produces. The skin of the Pinot noir grape is relatively thin, making it a tricky, albeit rewarding, candidate for wine production.
As mentioned by Karen MacNeil in The Wine Bible, “Winemakers adopt a minimalist approach, and often a percentage of the grapes is not crushed. Instead, whole grapes are put directly into the fermenting tanks, which also helps maximize fruity flavors in the wine. To keep those fruit flavors dominant, many wine-makers are also extremely careful and sparing in their use of new oak for aging.”
Oregon, inspired by the similar climate characteristics of Burgundy, staked its reputation on Pinot noir with much success. Thanks to ocean fog, California has shown that it too has no shortage of spots cool enough to keep Pinot grapes on the vine as they develop fine fruity flavors and texture. Notable Pinot regions in California include Los Carneros, the Russian River Valley in Sonoma and Santa Maria north of Santa Barbara.
Pinot noir is what put Oregon on the map internationally, and is the most planted in the state by far. Wineries in Oregon tend to be small family affairs. Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot gris follow. Oregon has no such thing as cheap, bulk wine. The climate is distinctly cloudy and cool, especially in the Willamette Valley where most of the wineries are clustered. This gentle climate, which highly resembles that of Burgundy, allows for wines of good acidity and balance, moderate alcohol, and an ideal degree of flavor.
Summer Wine Reads: Johnson, Hugh. The World Atlas of Wine, Ed. 4. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994; MacNeil, Karen. The Wine Bible. New York: Workman Publishing, 2001; Pigott, Stuart. Planet Wine. London: Mitchell Beazley, 2004; Robinson, Jancis. Jancis Robinson’s Wine Course. London: BBC Books, 1995.
“It’s All About the Fruit TM” Competitive Grants to Promote Nutrition, Sustainability and Volunteerism
SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 18, 2010 – Jamba Juice and the National Gardening Association (NGA) today announced a fun, easy way for schools and communities to support nutrition education through gardening and the planting of fruit trees.
“WE Garden is all about bringing communities together to promote a stronger, healthier California,” said California’s First Lady Maria Shriver. “This new partnership between Jamba Juice and the National Gardening Association will provide ongoing funding for school gardens and establish grants to plant fruit trees. I applaud their work to support California’s WE Garden program and help take our message to schools across the nation.”
On average, gardening activity burns between 250 and 500 calories an hour. For children, there’s a great deal of research indicating that gardening also helps them achieve higher test scores; connect to the environment; develop social skills; and improve their attention, focus, and self-esteem.
Sip to Support A GardenTM: Schools and garden organizations that sign up and register for the Sip to Support A Garden program will have the ability to earn year-round funding for their gardens through Jamba’s Community Appreciation Card. Participation is simple: Sign up a school garden or organization on-line; the organization will receive a Jamba-Kit that includes swipe cards for supporters, program details and other information; Start swiping — each time a supporter uses the swipe card for purchases at participating Jamba Juice locations, Jamba will donate 12% of the purchase to support gardens. 10% will be donated directly back to the garden organization and 2% will be donated to support school fruit tree grants administered by the NGA.
Pictured in Photos: Maria Shriver and Jamba Juice President and CEO James D. White with student launch Jamba Juice Fruit Tree and Garden Program at State Capitol
Jamba Juice President & CEO James D. White with Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jonathan Raymond, National Gardening Association CEO Mike Metallo with students from Sacramento schools receiving the first 5 $500 fruit tree grants from Jamba Juice
It’s All About the FruitTM Grants: Jamba Juice and the NGA are creating the It’s All About the Fruit competitive grants program where schools can apply and compete for $500 fruit tree planting grants to create long-term sustainable solutions and resources for schools and communities. To kick off the grant program, Jamba and NGA announced that the first grants are being awarded to five schools in the Sacramento City Unified School District: Oak Ridge Elementary School, Bowling Green K-6 School, Leonardo Da Vinci K-8 School, Will C. Wood Middle School, and Rosa Parks Middle School. Each school will receive a $500 It’s All About the Fruit grant to plant fruit trees on their school campuses. Superintendent Jonathan Raymond was present at the Sacramento event to accept the grants along with students from the schools. The first round of grant applications will be accepted in September 2010 with application requirements announced in July.
By Paige Donner
A stay in Comox Valley, Vancouver Island would feel black and white, gray even, without dining out at least one meal – if not daily – at Locals Restaurant in Courtenay. Where the colors of nature greet you at every turn, this is a Valley bursting with vibrancy. If there’s one thing nature loves, it’s color: The eye-popping yellows and purples of Spring flowers, the deep greens of leafy vegetables, the dark reds of vine-ripened tomatoes, even the fleshy pinks of fresh salmon.
Comox Valley’s Pride And Joy
“Locals – Food From The Heart of the Island” is the pride and joy of Chef Ronald St. Pierre who, with his wife, have created a dining experience that represents the culinary best of Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley. To walk through Locals’ doors is like walking into an Island Chefs Collaborative Farmers Market turned restaurant.
The exterior is humble enough. In fact, the praises that were sung about the restaurant and Chef St. Pierre, his philosophy and his passion for fresh, local ingredients did not prepare me for finding the restaurant to be the cornerstone in a Courtenay strip mall. As a first-time visitor to the Island, at every turn I was struck by the quaintness and charm of old farms, wooden buildings, even Courtenay itself is a picturesque little town entirely walkable with cheerful cafes and shops that line 5th Street, its downtown core and the center of Comox Valley. But now I know why people had failed to mention the restaurant’s exterior – once you’ve eaten there, what’s outside doesn’t matter. The restaurant’s interior is tastefully appointed, with a second room that has large booths for a private dining experience. But truly, the only thing you remember is how good the food is!
Chef Roland St. Pierre is a pioneer in translating “locavorism” into the driving philosophy behind a successful restaurant. Mind you, on Vancouver Island, locavorism is the common mind-set and to do otherwise is, well, frankly absurd. The Comox Valley especially is an abundant bread, fruit, cheese, meat and seafood basket. It could easily be named “Valley of Plenty” so abundant is all the fresh quality fare within arm’s reach. The Locals’ website explains their philosophy and reasoning, such as, “Buying habits are shifting with ‘food currently tied with health as our 4th top spending priority.’” It’s definitely worth reading if you at all consider yourself a foodie. Or a greenie.
So Chef Roland and his wife got to talking with local farmers and growers and saw what could be directly sourced for their table. They create their seasonal menus around the ingredients available. Pattison Farms, for example, supplies their fresh greens such as baby spinach, heirloom tomatoes and spicy mustard greens. Beaufort Vineyards supplies them with wine, as do other local vineyards like Chase & Warren Estate Winery and Cabrea Vineyard & Winery as well as the many vineyards just a bit south in the Cowichan Valley.
As part decoration and as part tribute, Chef St. Pierre hangs his walls with portraits of the farm-to-table suppliers he sources his fresh, local ingredients from. If you are keen to do a tour of the Valley’s prime growers for ingredients ranging from pork to duck, tomatoes to broccoli florets, goat cheese to mussels to ancient method balsamic vinegars, take a look at Locals’ walls, jot down the names and then work your way down the “wall.” With this itinerary, curated by Locals’ Restaurateurs Chef and Mrs. St. Pierre, you are guaranteed to enjoy a thoroughly fresh and authentic introduction to some of the Island’s star growers and local farmers.
Local’s Market Sheet Menu
The price points are also exceedingly reasonable. More often than not Locals’ has a Prix-Fixe or Market Sheet menu to order from. Depending on the season, for $35 you can have a seared duck “prosciutto” appetizer, a main-course of Bison (or fresh caught salmon) and a medley of desserts including fresh off-the-farm raspberry mousse. Or you can order a’ la carte from the menu. Either way, you’ll leave exceedingly, freshly satisfied.
Reservations suggested. 384 8th Street Courtenay, BC Canada Reservations 250-338-6493
When you find yourself in short supply of ginger jelly, cowslip, calendula anti-aging cream, and fresh sprigs of chocolate mint…not to mention Fairy Meadow Tea, make your way to Hazelwood Herb Farm just outside of Ladysmith on Vancouver Island.
Recently purchased in February of this year by Barbara Stevens and her husband, Hazelwood Herb Farm is a swath of acreage that former proprietor of 23 years, Jacynthe Dugas and her husband, Richard White, cultivated into a thriving business of fresh herbs.
When you walk the carefully cultivated and manicured grounds, through the outdoor nurseries, and into the nascent/ sprouting nurseries, it is startling to remind yourself that the whole business is based on the cultivation of seeds. Each year, each season, seeds are planted, nurtured, sown, and with these raw stuffs the business owners furnish themselves with the necessary raw materials to produce their other products, the jams, the jellies and chutneys, the face creams, arthritis salves, body balms, teas and tinctures sold in the compact and packed-full Herbal Heaven Gift Shop located on the premises.
Fresh Herbal Gifts
“Come Christmas time we are always very busy,” admits Jacynthe, present one afternoon during a tour of the grounds by new owner Barbara and her enthusiastic remedy devotee and herbal novice niece, Sandra.
An uninitiated glance around the gardens as you enter and the grounds appear to be beautifully tidy and trim with planted areas of distinctively varied plants. A more careful and focused gaze and one quickly realizes that what you are seeing is a living encyclopedia of rare, and everyday, herbs, plants and latent remedies.
“What you see here is the best kind of functional beauty there is,” says Sandra, who, according to Barbara, helped talk her and her husband into purchasing the property and business. Barbara admits that she has been preserving her own food and cultivating her own herbal garden at home all her life but had “never thought of it as a business.” She, with the support of her husband, son and extended family acknowledge that it’s a demonstration of faith and courage to step out of their “bureaucratic jobs” and “city lives” and into the shoes that Jacynthe and Richard have fashioned out of soil and seeds for over two decades on this little patch of farmland just south of Nanaimo.
“There are 400-500 varieties of herbs here on Hazelwood Farm,” Jacynthe proudly tells you, “20-30% are culinary. The rest have medicinal or other properties.” Originally from Quebec, Jacynthe now does a variety of things, including teaching soap making to local students who come to the property from Vancouver Island University to learn the art of making soap using the plants picked from the garden.
“I like playing,” says Jacynthe, glancing around her on-site test kitchen as she pours a cup of Fairy Meadow tea, one of her proprietary blends she makes from Hazelwood plants, and pushes a plate of chocolate and mint scones towards you that is made from a mix sold in the Herbal Heaven gift shop in the room next door. She certainly has occupied her time productively “playing,” – the shop is filled to the brim with unique items that range from delicious ingredients for the gourmand, to sweet-smelling and purely natural body balms and body care products to remedies that have medicinal properties that keep people coming back…and ordering online from the farthest reaches of the globe.
In 2006 Hazelwood was nominated for a national business award, the Laureat de la Moyenne Entreprise. Jacynthe herself is all about the notion of “economuseum,” the phrase for learning artisanal ways of doing things, especially when traveling through a distinct region. Her husband, Richard, even shot a 13-part TV series, “At Home With Herbs,” some years ago.
Hopefully all of this inspires you to grow and make your own. As you walk the 5-acre property, Barbara joyfully tells you what every living thing is in her gardens: Greek Oregano (good for nerves or depression), St. John’s Wort (flowers are used for anti-inflammatory property), arnica (for bruising, popular with hockey moms), peppermint, English mint, orange mint and chocolate mint; four types of lavendar in the lavendar gardens including “twickle purple lavendar,” sea-holly everlasting, echinacea, Lily of the Valley, yarrow root (the original “band-aid”), Alpine ladies mantle (very rare)…and that’s just scratching the surface.
In the outdoor nurseries, each plant is carefully labeled by name and most also have their Latin name tagged as well, especially for the traditional medicinal varietals. Hazelwood is a popular shopping spot for naturopaths, many who come over to the Island just to stock up at Hazelwood on their living raw materials. The little plants are sold for a few dollars each. Even the final products sold at Herbal Heaven are extremely reasonable, with few products topping $10 CDN. Hazelwood soaps make especially good gifts and the packaging is so sweetly simple, just a piece of dyed paper, tied with a cord, accented with a dried flower, that you feel like you’ve tucked something even finer and rarer than the finest French-milled soap from Provence, into your own personal “gift and souvenir bag for friends and family” as you linger before leaving Hazelwood Herb Farm.
Plant availability changes with the season. Open year-round but double check during the months of January and February. Www.hazelwoodherbfarm.com 13576 Adshead Road, Ladysmith, B.C.
Here’s all that a day of gathering cooking ingredients, locating a place in which to cook, and finding some regional cooking “advisors,” can be when you’re on The Island:
Book yourself into a farmstead that doubles as a B&B. We found Smith Lake Farms in the Comox Valley to be an ideal setting, especially if we had brought the children with us. Upon check-in we were handed two fresh eggs just gathered from the coop for our breakfast the next day.
Pattison Farms of Black Creek in Comox Valley, run by Gerry and Dagmar Pattison, is the stuff of legends. The certified organic farm keeps two gigantic greenhouses under year-round cultivation and grows three kinds of cauliflower, “but none of them are white,” Gerry will tell you. White cauliflower is too mundane for Pattison Farms purposes where Gerry has firmly established himself a niche of growing the absolute best varietals of spinach, tomatoes, heritage apple trees, blackberries and loads more for renowned B.C. Chefs such as Ronald St. Pierre of Locals and John Bishop of Bishop’s. St. Pierre even features a picture of Pattison on the wall of his Courtenay flagship Locals Restaurant.
Out on that quaint country road in Comox Valley it’s not surprising to hear Gerry talk about the farm stand he keeps open for most of the year right at the gate of his property that operates on the honor system. “The most we’ve ever had go missing is two heads of purple cabbage,” he says, clearly communicating that he doesn’t sweat the small stuff. What is surprising to hear is that this unassuming organic gourmand ingredient farmer hosted racks of news crews and a sit-down lunch on the patio and in his backyard/ farm fields when John Bishop launched his cookbook several years back. What you’ll find over and again in the Comox community is that people who know, know; and your best bet is to make friends with those people who are in the know.
Some of those people you’d be lucky to know are the ones who run Beaufort Vineyards. They are an Island culinary destination and have focused their 27 plus years of wine making toward crafting vineyard and winery practices that are people, animal and environment-friendly.
Just a hop skip down the road and you’ll find yourself in Courtenay, the jewel of the Valley. Grab yourself a cup of coffee at Mudshark’s and be sure to pop in next door to Bramble’s Market. Opened last summer by husband and wife Angeline and James Street (www.bramblesmarket.ca) it is B.C.’s only grocery store stocked with 100% local food and products, promoting a “50 km diet” of eat local, something that is actually quite possible to do when you live in the Comox Valley.
The notion of eat local is a popular one throughout the Island. However, as James and Angeline, hard working new business owners, will confide, “The people you would expect to come in and buy from us regularly…don’t. Our regulars are people who drive up in old beater cars but who really love good food. They’ll come for the meats, the cheeses, the breads and the other quality fresh ingredients we keep stocked because they just really love good food… and they know they can count on what they buy from us to taste great.” We stock up for our cooking class that we’ve scheduled for later, with informational assistance from Tourism Vancouver Island.
On our drive South, we pass Wal-Mart, Thrifty Foods, which is locally owned and does stock some local foods, and Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, an artisanal cheesemaker who specializes in “squeaky cheese,” which is really a form of curds and which Canadians love to liberally sprinkle on hot french fries, slather in gravy and call “Poutine,” a veritable national dish. Little Qualicum Cheeseworks also makes a goat cheese that Tigh-Na-Mara’s chef is using for his April “Earth Month”-inspired 100-mile diet menu in the Cedar Room.
We pull up to the Painted Turtle Guesthouse just a block up from the harbor walk in Nanaimo with our appetites barely in check. We’ve heard about the Mon Petit Choux bakery that supposedly does croissants better than anyone this side of Paris. Lucky for us, it’s just adjacent to the Painted Turtle so we tuck into it for a quick pick-me-up and indulge in not just the coffee (fantastico!) and a butter croissant, but also a Brioche that’s filled with pastry crème and fresh blueberries. The organic bread, and in fact all the baked goods, are made using only local ingredients and the roomy interior invites you to hang your hat for awhile. Owner Linda Allen is a throughbred of the Island Foodie Tribe and her other venue, the Wesley Street Cafe’, was rated a top-five Vancouver Island restaurant by Vancouver Magazine.
A sip, a chomp and we’re off. On the second floor of the Painted Turtle there is a spacious communal kitchen that is clean and bright and inviting. There is a comfortable sitting room adjacent to the open walled kitchen that looks out over the boutique-laden Bastion Street from airy corner windows that span from wall to wall.
Carrie and Karen, our cooking “advisors,” are a.k.a. Local Food For Nanaimo and are the resident Local Food Champions and experts. After just a few minutes of talking with them, it seems there’s nothing they don’t know about the local food scene on the Island, in particular in Nanaimo.
Here are some of the facts they readily shared and more can be found on: http://localfoodfornanaimo.blogspot.com
- Nanaimo has 10% of the farmland within the Vancouver Island Health Authority
- The majority of Nanaimo cropland is for grains and 72% of that grain goes to livestock feed.
- The most commonly produced vegetables are sweet corn, pumpkins, broccoli, squash/zucchini, green beans and beets.
- Most commonly produced fruits are grapes, apples, raspberries and blueberries.
- In 2006 there were 41 hectares of fruit farms, 25 hectares of vegetable farms compared to 2,120 hectares of grain farms.
- More Info: http://www.nanaimofoodshare.ca
They boast a wealth of knowledge about local food in the region which is a little surprising given that both young women are trained Marine Biologists and have undertaken extensive research assignments at prestigious facilities such as Rutgers University in the U.S.
But food is their passion and it’s never more apparent as when Karen’s face lights up as she describes to you the last poultry swap she went to which takes place every 1st Sunday of the month. Carrie is just as quick to jump in and tell you about Seedy Sundays where 300-400 people show up to swap seeds and talk to seed experts.
They’ll tell you all this, mind you, as they teach you how to prepare fresh Gnocchi flavored with “Nesto,” the Island Pesto made from Stinging Nettles. Both women regale you with the fun they’ve had teaching kids this recipe, as the youngsters especially enjoy rolling out the dough and splaying the little nubs with a fork. It’s a disarmingly simple recipe and is mostly potatoes, flour and an egg.
Karen and her beau have recently taken to farm living so she’ll tell you all about the over-abundance of potatoes they planted – and are still harvesting – this year and how they’ve learned more than they need to know about “headlamp farming,” (note: headlamp farming refers to farmers who hold down full time jobs and work a farm as a hobby. Meaning, after “work,” you put in your hours in the field. There have been times, she says, when she’s looked up and realized it has gotten pitch dark out somehow….). The Gnocchi is delicious, the Nesto a mild and sweet flavor, the Qualicum cheese salad with tender baby kale greens a fresh delight. The Painted Turtle Kitchen and “Great Room,” a perfect place in which to enjoy it all.
Unbelievably, we still have room for a bit more. So, since we’re in Nanaimo, we head out in search of a Nanaimo Bar. This is a chocolatey, creamy, coconutty bar that you see at nearly every coffee shop in Canada. No one really knows its origins for certain, but everyone knows and has eaten at some point, a Nanaimo Bar. We don’t have to wander far before we find ourselves in what feels like a Vancouver hipster joint, with exposed brick walls and trendy, large pieces of art hanging on the wall. We are in the Modern Cafe’ in downtown Nanaimo. We glance through the menu at the bar noting that the place is packed for an early dinner seating. And then, we spot it, the perfect top-off to our perfect Comox Valley/ Local Food Nanaimo Day: the Nanaimo-tini. And right at that moment, that’s perfectly local enough for us!
For a day of delight, make your way to Cow Bay. This little seaside village boasts some of Vancouver Island’s star culinary attractions. They are: Hilary’s Artisan Cheese, True Grain Bread, and newly refurbished Cowichan Bay Seafood.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District is also home to Fairburn Farm, the decade-long Slow Food and Water Buffalo mozzarella cheese farm championed by Mara Jernigan and the Fairburn Farm family. Just a meandering island country road down from there is Blue Grouse Vineyards and Winery, one of the founding estate wineries of Vancouver Island. There’s also the Cowichan Valley Meat Market [and Quist Family Farm processing], an important component in ranking as a Slow Food Community, as Vanessa, on Cowichan Bay’s Slow Food Board, is quick to point out, “Everyone can grow their own vegetables and keep their own chickens, but what about the protein source?” she rhetorically asks, during a discussion about Vancouver Island’s unique on-island meat processing facilities.
Cowichan Bay is a small unincorporated area, more a village than a town, that is tucked inbetween Victoria to the South and Comox Valley to the north. Salt Spring Island is just a stone’s throw away across from the neighboring Genoa and Maple Bays.
If you’re into “Slow” then you probably already know that Cowichan Bay is the first North American community to be awarded the Citta Slow designation; a designation they won only just last August and due to the focused efforts of Mara from Fairburn, Hilary Abbott of the fore-mentioned cheese, Bruce of famed True Grain and Vanessa Elton of Affinity Guesthouse. Full membership of Cittaslow is only open to towns with a population under 50,000. To qualify as eligible, a town must score at least 50 percent in a 52-point Citta inspection – Cow Bay scored 93 percent, one of the highest scores in the entire International Network. This little village scored particularly high for their environmental policies and also, since Vanessa and her husband Dwight who run Affinity Guesthouse had something to do with it, friendliness as well.